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Yearly planning on the homestead is an incredibly important tool to keep you on track to achieve the myriad goals you may have for the coming year. From building projects to what you’re planting and what kind of meal prep you have in mind, homestead planning is something I take the time to do early on – even before the previous year ends – to ensure I have some idea of what I need to focus and prioritise.
Yearly planning for each new year
No matter how you go about it, as a homesteader you should absolutely be planning your year for the best success. You may do it in a variety of ways – from Pinterest mood boards to writing it down – however it is that you set your planning schedule is individual to you and ensures you can meet those goals.
There are a few things that must happen before the year begins:
- Plan to Plan – set aside the time to plan
- Make a Plan – write everything down, all the ideas, keywords, concepts and wishes
- Align Your Goals – discuss your plan with your spouse/family
- Think Back – discuss what worked/didn’t work the previous year
- Revisit the Plan – don’t just implement changes after one meeting, come back to what was discussed a week or two later and revisit the plan to make sure everything is doable
- Implement the Plan – this is where you actually implement the changes that need to be made, slot each project into the calendar, list out supplies or other things that will be needed to make it happen
Look broadly and widely – your plan must be strategic!
It’s easy to focus on the little changes that need to be made, but before you get to the nitty-gritty, you need to pull back and look at the larger picture first. Without sounding like a government document, but your homestead planning needs to be pretty broad and a little bit strategic. Think “I want to grow more food off the homestead in 2023”. That would be a strategic goal.
Some of these broader ideas include things like:
- Relational/Family moments (more on this below)
- Larger projects
- Reflect & Review (what did/didn’t work the previous year)
Family time and relational moments
What are relational moments? This is just family time. Whether you have a barrel of kiddies or a muti-generational family – relational moments mean the time you spend with family, enjoying each other’s time and making memories.
These trips and time away don’t just happen on a whim, they take planning ahead and forethought, otherwise the intention is there, but the actual time never seems to be available. It’s also really easy to get bogged down with work and projects on the homestead and making no effort to take time to recuperate.
It can also be a lot more challenging as a homesteader to take a break, because you may not have someone with enough experience to manage your homestead in your absence. There’s nothing worse than planning a holiday somewhere and then not enjoying it because you’re thinking about what is going on at home.
In order to make this happen, it means looking at the calendar and blocking off those relational moments before the calendar year begins. We generally try to take one bigger trip away for at least a fortnight, and then smaller day trips or sleep over trips locally to ensure we get the break we need throughout the year.
What are the trips you’ve been meaning to take with your spouse, your family, or a one-on-one trip with a child? Make this next year the year it actually happens by planning it now.
List out how many special trips this equates to for you, then start a list.
Healthy relationships are actually the most important part of building and maintaining a thriving homestead!
TIP: Don’t let this stress you out! A trip can be as simple as a weekend camping trip! They don’t have to be extravagant. We’ve found the time spent together is what matters, not so much the location or activity.
Larger homestead projects
Next, we look at some of the larger projects that need to happen on the homestead. Whether it’s improving structures (barns, outbuildings, the house), adding/improving fencing, updating areas of the home, etc.
It’s easy to think you can do all your projects in one calendar year, but reality quickly sets in on the time and financial investment that these projects actually take.
Once you have a list of all your projects, prioritise them in order of importance. From there you can even get more specific into the investment that each project will take (both in time and financially), and then you can add those to your list (along with the relational moments) and start slotting your projects onto the calendar.
The hard part here is limiting yourself. When we are planning, we have often thought we can do it all, and then when we got into our year and were trying to get it all done we wonder, “What were we thinking!”
Plan enough to make it challenging, but not undoable.
Identify and remove what isn’t working
Sometimes the “pain points” of day-to-day life can help you determine the most important projects when trying to set goals for the year.
Sometimes those pain points become so bad that you need to do them first or give them a greater priority.
Ask yourself what’s not working around the homestead? Are there certain projects you could complete that would revolutionise your day-to-day life and really bring ease to your day?
Sometimes those things determine what makes the project list.
For instance, one of the major projects we’re going to work on this year is building a massive barn. One of the reasons we chose to buy this property and move when we did is because the other place had almost no external infrastructure. We needed more workshops, more space for things, and the old homestead only had a house and a rickety carport with a garden shed.
This new barn we propose to build on that property is double the size of the house, but gives us everything we’re missing. A workshop with hoist area, an indoor stable, a studio for me, a mezzanine floor for extra storage and a garage space for extra vehicles, trailers etc.
As we settle in, we’ll also add other things we feel we need, like a bigger carport, a garden and chicken area, a wash and tie down bay for the horse and an arena for safe on-property riding.
Another project that makes the list for us this year is improving our fencing. We need to replace the fencing between us and the neighbours, and also ensure we have a 1 metre barrier for Moose of the fence so he doesn’t damage it.
Whatever it is, make sure you give adequate time to get each major project done before moving on to the next one. You will encounter issues that force you to stop. These issues could include an increase in the cost of material or, if you’ve hired a professional to do the work, they may have work delays or unable to fit you in when you need the work done.
Try not to overlap or stack them with other major projects. You still need to manage day-to-day life like gardening, preserving, animal care, and the million other things that go on every day!
Now to get specific!
After setting aside time for relationships, looking at the strategic picture, and pinpointing the larger projects that need to get done, you can then dive into the specifics (or smaller projects) and make plans for those things.
One obvious area where we get specific is garden planning. More specifically, what improvements need to be made to our garden spaces, what crops we’re growing, what crops will go where, how we will preserve and store them, etc.
If you plan this ahead of time, you’ll know when you need to start seeds indoors, when you need to amend your soil, and when it’s time to plant seeds (or starts) in the ground. This will ensure you’re getting the maximum amount of growing time for your location.
This is also a great time to think about last year’s garden. What grew well? What varieties did well (or not)? Did you grow enough of certain crops or too many of another?
There are many things you may need to plan from bringing in meat chickens for the year, to baby animals being born, to homeschooling, to….well, you name it. And after you’ve named it, think it through and make a plan on how these more specific and regular projects fit into daily life!
TIP: Be sure to place your seed orders early! Don’t wait until you get your catalogs in January. This is a good year to get a head start on your ordering as supplies are limited.
Look at your systems
And finally, after you’ve scheduled in your relational time, listed your major projects, and figured out your specific projects, you’ll want to take inventory of your systems. This is another opportunity to ask yourself what is/isn’t working. What areas could use an overhaul?
For us, these areas include:
- Vehicle Maintenance – it has to happen, whether you like it or not, so one of our goals this year is to get ahead of the repairs before they become a headache.
- Meal Prep – maybe you want to make it a goal this year to get better at meal prepping and having a home-cooked meal on the table each night of the week.
- Flood Prep – living in South East Queensland means we live in a sub tropical climate and are subject to a wet season. Even worse so if there is a La Nina in the area. So we make sure our flood planning is up to date and we have everything we need in an emergency.
Whatever area you’re looking at, now is a good time to write out a plan for how you’re going to improve it.
Set goals that push you a little bit, but that aren’t unrealistic. You want to be pushed, but not to failure. Find the sweet spot that pushes you just enough, but also allows for the projects to actually get done.
This life can be tough, and it can be a struggle to get through the day-to-day, so it is important that we plan for successes that mark the journey and help us reach our goals. If something cannot be achieved in the given time frame, put it aside and when you are not in such a rush and can give it the time it needs to be analysed, have a look at what went wrong and why it went wrong. It may have been something as simple as not giving the project enough time, which can be easily rectified for planning it again next time round.
Until next time.